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Pyrenees Coast to Coast

Pyrenees Coast to Coast

£1450 per person

Grade 4 Cycle Tour

This 7-day cycle tour has been carefully designed to take in some of the most iconic cols of the Pyrenees along a Coast to Coast journey from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.

It is perfect for keen road cyclists who like the idea of a coast to coast challenge but don’t want to take part in the pressurised Raid Pyrenean (the famous West to East ride that must be completed within 100 straight hours and includes sections on very busy dual carriageways). Please note, however, that this is still a “challenging” ride! It is a memorable, bucket-list type of tour from which you will get a great sense of achievement and lifelong happy memories, and not necessarily a “stop and smell the roses” kind of bike touring holiday.

Unlike fixed based tours, you will also enjoy the changes in culture, scenery and climate that you will experience as you journey through the regions of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées, Haute-Garonne, Ariège and Pyrénées-Orientales. The ride tries to avoid the busier French roads and as well as the hill climbs it enjoys many sections alongside fast-flowing rivers, through steep-sided gorges and beautiful vineyards.

Starting with a dip in the Atlantic Ocean, day one provides a gentle warm up to the rest of the week as we gradually head into the foothills of the Pyrenees. The following six days includes some of the most well-known mountain passes of the Pyrenees that feature frequently in the Tour de France including the Col d’Aubisque, Col de Soulor, Col de Tourmalet, Col d’Aspin, Col de Peyresourdes, Col de Portet d’Aspet and Col de Pailheres.

We will be cycling between 50 to 135km per day with between 1000m and 2700m of ascent. Making an early start each morning gives us plenty of time to each cycle at our own pace up the climbs and spend time enjoying the scenery, stopping for espressos and pastries and taking the time to make the most of the numerous photo opportunities en-route. Although many of the climbs are challenging our support van will wait at convenient points along the route to provide any assistance you might require. The main aims of each day are to have a great time, laugh a lot and make it to the hotel before sunset.

Highlights

  • Conquering some of the most iconic Cols of the Pyrenees including the Col du Tourmalet, Col d’Aubisque, Col d’Aspin & Col de Pailheres
  • Bucket list, coast-to-coast, Atlantic to Mediterranean cycling adventure
  • Challenging climbs, breathtaking descents and gentle valley roads through stunning Pyrenean scenery.
  • Quiet, cyclist-friendly roads through picturesque French villages and towns
  • French bread and cheese! And  delicious patisseries!
  • Women’s only tour – organised and led by experienced female riders with an ethos of having fun in a supportive environment

Accommodation

Your accommodation will be on a bed and breakfast basis in a mixture of French Auberge, small hotels and a cycle lodge. Apart from the cycle lodge, where there is a large loft that sleeps 6, the cost of accommodation is based on twin/triple shares. An additional supplement will be payable for single rooms.

Meals

A challenging ride such as this can’t be undertaken without the right fuel. Each morning will start with a hearty breakfast to ensure we are set for the day. Throughout the day, the support van will never be too far away, and will provide extra snacks and drinks to keep those legs filled with energy.

Each day, either lunch or dinner will be included in the price of the tour, and this will be made clear in the Tour Plan, where “B/L/D” refers to meals included in the trip cost i.e. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. On days where we provide a picnic lunch, riders can choose which restaurant to eat dinner in later that evening. On days where we’ve included a communal dinner at the evening’s accommodation, riders are free to choose their favourite cafe stop for lunch. There will always be snacks and drinks available from the support van at each rendez-vous.

Bike Transfers

We are able to transport your bike (at your own risk) to Biarritz and back to the UK from Perpignan. If you prefer to transport your bike yourself, you will find that most airlines accept bikes as additional luggage. Please contact us so that we can ensure we have enough space in the support van for any bike boxes you may wish to use.

7 days of cycling
Approx 420 miles Age
  • Destination
  • Depart from
    Biarritz, France
  • Return from
    Perpignan, France
  • Road surfaces
    Hilly terrain on tarmac (conditions can vary).
  • Bike Type
    Road Bike
  • Included
    Pyrenees Coast to Coast
    Accommodation
    Lunch
    Evening meals (unless specified)
    Cycling guide
    GPX files
    Vehicle support
    Baggage transfer
  • Not Included
    Bike hire
    Travel to start & from finish
    International flights
    Airport transfers
    Travel insurance
    Visas
1
Arrival Day
Arrive in Biarritz ready for an early evening pre-ride briefing followed by a welcome dinner in the hotel/nearby restaurant. (D)
2
Day 1 - Cycle from Biarritz to Arette
After dipping our toes in the Atlantic Ocean we will steadily wend our way across the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, cycling through traditional Basque villages such as Espelette and Itxassou. Espelette is famed for its red chillies which are grown in the region and hung up to dry on the outside of the houses. We will warm up our climbing legs on the Col d’Osquich which is one of the gentlest climbs of the tour and has a beautiful downhill stretch down towards the pretty town of St-Jean-de-Pied-de-Port and on towards the city of Mauléon-Licharre. We will continue through the foothills of the Pyrenees to reach the small town of Arette. (B, D)
3
Day 2 - Cycle from Arette to Argelès-Gazost
Today we will ride up one of the most beautiful cols of the tour – le Col d’Aubisque. This Hors Catégorie (HC) climb (which means a climb “beyond categorisation”!) is one of the most frequently ridden cols of the Tour de France and was first included in the tour back in 1910. Starting in Laruns, the first stage towards the spa resort of Eaux-Bonnes is relatively gentle with the pine trees offering welcome shade on hot days. The gradient then rises to over 10% for several kilometres before easing back again slightly before the top. The summit at 1709m offers stunning views and there will be plenty of time to recuperate in the café and take photos alongside the iconic TdF giant cycles. Descending from l’Aubisque, the ride continues along the Cirque du Litor, epitomised by its steep roadside drops and tunnels. Heading gradually back up again we tick off the Col du Soulor before enjoying an exhilarating ride down into Vallée d'Argelès-Gazost in the Hautes-Pyrénées. (B, L)
4
Day 3 - Cycle from Argelès-Gazost to Arreau
Today we take on the mighty challenge of the Col de Tourmalet followed by the beautiful Col d'Aspin. We'll start the day warming up our legs by cycling through the lush Vallée d'Argelès-Gazost. Upon reaching the ski resort of Luz-Saint-Sauveur we begin our ascent of the Tourmalet – the most climbed mountain in the history of the Tour de France. With its summit at 2115m (6939ft), it is the highest paved mountain pass in the Pyrenees. At 19km long and with an average gradient 7.4% it is a euphoric moment when you finally reach the top and see the iconic Géant au Col du Tourmalet. The tough climb is rewarded by a long ride down towards the beautiful village of Sainte-Marie-de-Campan where we can restore our energy levels in a café before heading out towards the Col d’Aspin. At just over 12km and with an average gradient of around 5%, the climb gently winds up from the valley floor, through alpine forests before reaching the summit. The descent, with its tight hairpin bends and stunning views, will put a smile on your face the whole way down into the city of Arreau. (B, L)  
5
Day 4 - Cycle from Arreau to Castillon-en-Couserans
Heading out from Arreau, the first climb of the day is the Col de Peyresourde. After almost 10km of ascending, the creperie at the summit will be a very welcome sight, and a must for stopping at for refreshements. A glorious descent down the other side of the Peyresourde brings us into the city of Bagnères-de-Luchon in the Haute-Garonne region. The final climb of the day is the Col de Portet d'Aspet. Although less than 15km long, with an average gradient of just over 4%, it is the last 4km where the real climbing takes place. With the gradient edging up to 17% in places you will certainly feel it in your legs. From here we will continue down into the valley and onwards to Castillon-en-Couserans. (B, L)
6
Day 5 - Cycle from Castillon-en-Couserans to Biert
Today we will wend our way from Castillon-en-Couserans, through stunning, lush mountain scenery, and over lesser know cols, to arrive in one of our favourite places to stay - Les Deux Velos Cyclo Lodge. (B, D)
7
Day 6 - Cycle from Biert to Ax-les-Thermes
Today is relatively short day in the saddle, with the aim of getting to Ax-les-Thermes by early afternoon. Famous for its numerous therapeutic hot springs, which are believed to have been in use since the Roman times, it's a great place to spend the afternoon relaxing and recuperating before the final day of the tour. (B, L)
8
Day 6 - Cycle from Ax-les-Thermes to the Mediterrean coast
The final day and the final climb of the tour – the Col de Pailheres. You will ascend over 1280m on this 18km climb with the gradient averaging at almost 7% and steadily increasing towards the top. It is the second highest col in the Pyrenees and a great finale to a week of challenging climbs. Although there is still over 100km left to ride after the summit it is a great relief to know that it is downhill (mostly) all the way to the Mediterranean. Passing through the steep sided and stunning Gorges de Saint-Georges we head up towards Axat before finally heading east into the Pyrénées-Orientales and passing through some of the most famous vineyards of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, such as Maury and Rivesaltes. After what seems like a long, straight, downhill section we will finally meet the Mediterranean at Saint-Marie-Plage where it’s time to take a dip in the sea and celebrate six days of epic cycling and the completion of a memorable challenge. The cycling is not quite over with as it is a short ride back to Perpignan where will we enjoy a group celebratory meal before saying goodbye to the tour leaders who will head home early the next morning. (B, D)
9
Departure Day
Time to depart for your journey home, or choose to stay on and explore Perpignan and the surrounding area. (B)

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Please click on your preferred tour dates below and you will be taken to our secure booking form. If you prefer not to book online, you can download a booking form and post or fax it to us. Please read the Booking Conditions carefully before completing the booking form. We require a completed booking form plus the appropriate deposit before your reservation can be confirmed. Note your booking is with High Places Ltd an ATOL and ABTOT bonded tour operator.
BOOK 20-28 JUNE 2020